SEM (search engine marketing) can drive awareness and conversions for local advertisers. Ideally, you want your customers to hold prominent real estate on Google’s first page when people search. The tactic is ever-changing and not something you can set and forget. With new SEM trends emerging, you’ll want to share these tips with your advertisers to maximize their ROAS (return on ad spend).

Voice Search Ads: Keywords as Questions

With the ease of asking a question, more consumers use voice search. Data reflects that 58% of people use voice search to find local businesses. Because of its growing popularity, you should talk to your advertisers about optimizing for voice search. That requires thinking about keywords differently.

Typically, a voice search is a question, starting with who, what, where and when. A voice search is more conversational than a text search. For example, if your customer is a local cinema, you can suggest that a searcher may ask:

  • What movies are playing near me?
  • When do matinees start?
  • Where is the nearest cinema?

You would then want to target these long-tail keywords in your ads.

Responsive Search Ads: Dynamic Ads Get More Clicks

Responsive search ads are now the default on Google. They are an ad type that displays different headlines and text entered to deliver a dynamic ad that best aligns with the searcher’s query. As a result, your advertisers will need multiple headlines and descriptors that can be used interchangeably. The overall message will be similar. Depending on what the user searches, the best “fit” for that person will display.

In addition to the query, Google also looks at the person’s search history, past clicks and device type. The biggest benefit for your advertisers is the personalization factor. If users relate to the ad, they’re more likely to click it.

According to Google, this dynamic type of ad results in 6% more clicks and a 5% higher CTR (click-through rate). To achieve these kinds of results, the ads need unique titles and descriptions. It’s a great way to test out different wording and length. Keep in mind the groups the advertiser wants to target when developing copy.

Optimizing Ads to Align with the Fragmented Customer Journey

The path from customer need to purchase is no longer linear. Much of that is due to the many channels in which customers consume information. Customers also want convenience in their journey, and that often involves searching. That delivers lots of options in the solutions available and how to obtain them.

This shift is critical to SEM strategies for local businesses. You want your customers to have a presence in these search results; that’s not changing. The approach, when factoring in fragmentation, will.

People often go through cycles of exploration and evaluation in the new customer journey. More things influence buying decisions beyond price, features or quality. Brand credibility, social proof (i.e., reviews and recommendations), and availability all play a role.

It is important to talk to your advertisers about this concept and how it works with SEM. Those points should include:

  • SEM campaigns need to be long-term to “catch” the buyer when they are ready to move. One-off or short runs aren’t effective. That’s because search ads optimize over time, directing ad dollars to the most relevant and best-converting keywords. A best practice is at least a 90-day campaign.
  • Create segments of SEM ads that consider all the new buying influences. For example, social proof may be important to a customer. You would advise your advertiser to include star ratings or other credibility-focused information in the ad, such as licensed, insured, BBB-rated, etc.
  • SEM should be part of an integrated, multichannel campaign. For example, radio ads increase searching, so your advertiser needs to be visible online to experience the lift.

Understanding Intent for Better Ad Alignment

One way to maximize the return on SEM for advertisers is to optimize ad content by considering searcher intent. Intent is a significant SEM trend shaping the landscape.

There are four categories of intent:

  • Informational: “I want to learn.”
  • Commercial: “I want to explore and purchase.”
  • Navigational: “I want to go to a specific website.”
  • Transactional: “I want to buy.”

Here are some examples.

A user searches for “low maintenance landscape ideas.” In this query, the person is seeking suggestions and examples. It’s clearly informational. In that case, an ad to buy is premature. You’ll have greater success with educational content, which can help build the relationship for when the person is ready to buy.

A user searches for “hire landscaper” with a city name or ZIP code. “Hire” indicates this is a transactional search, so it would be appropriate to display an ad for a free quote or consultation.

Capitalize on These SEM Trends for Better Results

When you understand and share these SEM trends with advertisers, they’ll look to you as an expert. That can help you capture more of their ad spend in digital channels. By keeping current on what’s shaping the tactic, you can provide insights resulting in better ROI.

Get more insights on talking to customers about digital advertising tactics by downloading our e-book, How to Explain Digital Advertising Tactics to Your Advertisers.

How to Explain Digital Advertising E-book cover